At PYD’s upcoming benefit event, we will be honoring Ernst & Young and a handful of individuals for their commitment to the inclusion and mentoring of youth with disabilities. Dr. Ellen Perrin is one of our honorees, as she has been a tireless advocate in helping practicing pediatricians at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center better meet the needs of youth with disabilities and their families. She was also a key collaborator and author on PYD’s recently published study on the effects of mentoring on youth with autism.
Learn more about Ellen below!
Why is mentoring important to you?
I think of a mentor as someone who guides and counsels in an egalitarian manner, and that is very powerful. It is different from a teacher, who imparts knowledge and gives advice to someone usually younger and less experienced than him or herself; a mentor is someone who walks beside a person and assists that person to feel secure in learning new skills and knowledge as an equal partner.
Who’s someone you consider a mentor?
A mentor to me is Adrienne Asch. Adrienne unfortunately died not quite 3 years ago at much too young an age, but she remains an inspiration to me. Born blind due to retinopathy of prematurity, she never let her inability to see even light and dark interfere with her enjoyment of life and other people. She had a huge number of friends and colleagues whom she loved and learned from, and also gave so much to. Her one deep regret is that she was never able to form a long-term intimate relationship despite many people who considered her a close friend. She was very wise, and through her writing and her speeches she helped a lot of people understand deep truths about disabilities and about social relationships.
Tell us about something awesome you’re working on.
Well, I don’t know if this is exactly “awesome” but I am very committed to it: After developing a new kind of developmental screening test called the Survey of Wellbeing of Young Children, I am working to figure out how to make it available to all parents and their health care providers. The test is available on the internet without cost, and many pediatricians, and agencies involved in caring for young children have found it useful. However since it does not produce any revenue, we are currently trying to figure out how to pay for further dissemination, research, revisions, and further translations into other languages. It has been very gratifying to hear about people who find it useful in their work with young children and their families. Another awesome thing I am working on — or more truthfully I am just starting to work on — is to write a history of my family. I have lots of photographs and lots of stories about my parents and my great grandparents, and I want to tell their stories for my children, grandchildren, and other generations to know.